At least 49 confirmed dead after plane crash at Nepal airport

US-Bangla Airlines Flight 211 wobbled and seemed unbalanced on approach - witnesses

Eyewitness footage captures smoke billowing from an airplane that crashed at Nepal's Kathmandu airport. Video: Nitin Keyal

 

A passenger aircraft coming from Bangladesh slammed into an empty field and erupted in flames just beyond the runway at the airport in Nepal’s capital on Monday, and officials said at least 49 of the 71 people on board have been killed.

Huge grey columns of smoke uncoiled from the field as rescuers dashed into the crumpled fuselage and tried to pull out as many people as they could. “The Nepali people were saying, ‘Bachaau, bachaau’,” which means ‘Save me, save me,’” said Balkrishna Upadhyay, an army rescuer.

Wreckage of an airplane is pictured as rescue workers operate at Kathmandu airport, Nepal on March 12th, 2018. Photograph: Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters
Wreckage of an airplane is pictured as rescue workers operate at Kathmandu airport, Nepal on March 12th, 2018. Photograph: Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters

“The Bangladeshis were screaming out in English: ‘Help me, please help me’. It was horrible,” Upadhyay said.

Flight from Dhaka

The plane, US-Bangla Airlines Flight 211, was landing at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu on a flight from Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, when it crashed at 2.15pm. Witnesses said it was wobbling in the air and seemed unbalanced as it approached.

Wreckage of an airplane is pictured as rescue workers operate at Kathmandu airport, Nepal. Photograph: Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters
Wreckage of an airplane is pictured as rescue workers operate at Kathmandu airport, Nepal. Photograph: Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters

Several airport workers said it had overshot the runway by about 150ft, nose-diving into the deserted field just beyond the airport fence. A few minutes later, while the first batch of rescuers were pulling panicked passengers out of the front of the plane, an intense fire burst out at the back.

“It sounded like a bomb went off,” said Kailash Adhikari, a driver for a fuel company working at the airport. He said it took 15 minutes for firefighters to extinguish the flames. If the firefighters had arrived faster, several rescue crew members said, more people could have been saved.

Sanam Shakya (33), a survivor of the US-Bangla plane crash, with his parents while undergoing treatment at a hospital in Kathmandu, Nepal. Photograph: Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters
Sanam Shakya (33), a survivor of the US-Bangla plane crash, with his parents while undergoing treatment at a hospital in Kathmandu, Nepal. Photograph: Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters

Critical condition

Nepali police officials said the flight was carrying 67 passengers and four crew. Forty-nine people were confirmed dead and 22 injured, many in critical condition, said Manoj Neupane, a spokesman for the national police. The cause of the crash was not clear, officials said, though the air on Monday was especially hazy.

Firefighters work on the burning wreckage of US-Bangla Airlines Flight 211 while a crane is used amid ongoing rescue efforts at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, Nepal, on Monday. Photograph: Narendra Shrestha/EPA
Firefighters work on the burning wreckage of US-Bangla Airlines Flight 211 while a crane is used amid ongoing rescue efforts at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, Nepal, on Monday. Photograph: Narendra Shrestha/EPA
An image of the US-Bangala plane before it crashed.
An image of the US-Bangala plane before it crashed.

Airline officials said they were investigating what caused the plane to miss the runway. After the crash, the airport was shut, and officials said several planes were circling, awaiting clearance to land. Some were short on fuel as they waited. The airport re-opened about 2 1/2 hours later. – New York Times